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Osaka questions

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We arrive in Osaka Itami airport on Friday evening Nov 16 and depart at 7:30 AM Monday November 19. We have been to Japan several times and have read some of the basic stuff on Osaka (Lonely Planet, Rough Guide, plus the JNTO and japan-guide websites). With that in mind, we would like some advice or suggestions on how to best spend our three nights/two days. We are in our mid-thirties and more culture-vultures than sight seers.

Because we are flying into Itami in the evening and out of Itami in the early morning, we realize it is best we stay somewhere close to the airport or by the Shin Osaka station. We looked at a few options - Mielparque, Toyoko Inn, Dormy Inn. Because our time is so limited, we would like to stay somewhere close to transportation so we can enjoy the city as well as be able to get to and from the airport with minimal fuss.

Friday night we will get in late. With luck, we might get out of the airport by 8:30 or 9 PM. So we need a place that is easy to get to plus we will probably want to eat something.

We are debating whether to just book a three nights in a hotel or two.

One option would be to spend Saturday night in Arima Onsen town. There are many options but the one that appeals to us the most is Tosen Goshobo, which offers a stay + dinner for $600. Pricey but it is high season with the leaves and all.

The inn also offers one-hour spring visit (1575Y) and kaiseki lunch (3000Y). So we were thinking to do that to get a taste of Goshobo and, if we can get back someday with a stronger dollar, have the full experience at Goshobo. Or maybe the daytrip is really all we need.

Arima Onsen is really not featured in Lonely Planet or the Rough Guide. It is kind of an afterthought in online guides. Is there something not that great about it?

Whether we do a night at the Goshobo or not depends on what else there is to do in Osaka. It is not listed high on tourists sights but we do like what we read about it being "Japan's kitchen" with friendly people. We are devoting the entire day of Sunday to Osaka - our friends from Kytoto are coming to hang out with us. Question is - do we want to do Saturday night in Osaka? or would it be better to just relax in the onsen and just devote one day (Sunday) for Osaka?

We are also interested in travelpasses for the Osaka area - something that will get us from Itami to Osaka city and to Arima Onsen and back. Kansai thru pass?

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